Washington, May 31: US President Donald Trump today pardoned Indian-American conservative commentator and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, who was sentenced to five years of probation in 2014 for violating federal campaign laws. Trump said D'Souza was treated very unfairly. The president, who has never met D'Souza or spoken to him, last night called him on the phone to inform him about his decision. Trump said he spoke to D'Souza "for three minutes last night...he almost had a heart attack".
D'Souza was, in the president's opinion, a victim of selective prosecution for violations of campaign finance laws, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. "Mr D'Souza accepted responsibility for his actions, and also completed community service by teaching English to citizens and immigrants seeking citizenship. In light of these facts, the president has determined that Mr D'Souza is fully worthy of this pardon," Sanders said in a statement.
"I've always felt he was very unfairly treated. And a lot of people did, a lot of people did. What should have been a quick minor fine, like everybody else with the election stuff...what they did to him was horrible," Trump said. Mumbai-born D'Souza, 57, is the author of several New York Times bestseller books.
In 2012 his movie '2016: Obama's America's' which was based on his anti-Obama book became the second-highest-grossing political documentary film produced in the US.
D'Souza, who comes from a Roman Catholic family from Goa, had launched a campaign against both Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. He is a big supporter of Trump. In a new video, released this week, D'Souza ripped apart "the false narrative that Democrats are the 'anti-fascist' party". His latest book 'Big Lie' is based on this.
The Indian American did not immediately comment on the presidential pardon, excepting retweeting Trump's tweet in this regard. In 2014, D'Souza had pleaded guilty in federal court for using a straw donor to making an illegal contribution to a 2012 Senate campaign. He was thereafter sentenced to eight months in a halfway house near his home in San Diego and five years of probation. He is the author of nearly 20 books and producer of four movies, with the latest one being 'Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party'. Top Indian American attorney Preet Bharara had opposed the pardon. "The president has the right to pardon but the facts are these: D'Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologised for his conduct & the judge found no unfairness. The career prosecutors and agents did their job. Period," Bharara said in a tweet.